REHAB GOES TO THE DOGS: - Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance

A Practical Approach to
Animal Assisted Therapy
Meet Hudy & Oscar
Road from Average Joe to
Ambassador of Hope
 Canine career change
– Service Dog
– Therapy Dog
 Case Example – Greg
 Role of Handler in therapy sessions
– Facilitates interaction between dog and client
– Maintains safety of dog and client
– Collaboration with therapist to meet the goal of the
Why Dogs As a Therapeutic Approach?
 Supports key concepts of evidence-based research in the field of
neuroscience  Saliency (must be meaningful to the client)
Unconditional Love
Calming, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure
Ice breaker
Reduces depression
Promotes health
Reduces vulnerability
Speech-Language Therapy
Speech-Language Pathologists
specialize in the evaluation & treatment
of communicative, cognitive &/or
swallow needs. Speech-Language
Pathologist provide a wide range of
services and support for individuals,
their families & caregivers from birth to
death with such needs.
Typical Speech Therapy Goals
May Include:
 Speech production
– “Dysathria”
– “Apraxia”
prosody (inflection)
 Language (comprehension and expression)
– “Aphasia”
phonology (sound structure)
syntax (grammar)
semantics (words)
pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication)
Typical Speech Therapy Goals
May Include Cont:
• literacy (reading, writing, spelling)
– “Cognitive-Linguistic Deficits”
• Attention
• Memory
• Executive functioning
– Sequencing & Organization
– Problem solving
– Reasoning
How Animal-Assisted Therapy Impacts
ST Goals – Case Example #1:
18 y/o female with Acquired Brain Injury
w/ residual speech & language deficits
– Speech production  Command
– Language  Talking to Dog
– Pragmatics  Developed Scripts 
Communication Practice using Scripts
– Reading  Reading out loud to dog 
Reading a recipe to create Dog treats
Dog Treat Recipe
 Frozen Peanut Butter Yogurt Dog Treats
 Ingredients
• 32 ounces vanilla yogurt
• 1 cup peanut butter
 Directions
1. Melt the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl
2. Combine the yogurt and melted peanut butter
3. Pour the mixture into cupcake papers
4. Place in the freezer
( 2013)
How Animal-Assisted Therapy Impacts
ST Goals – Case Example #2:
 42 y/o male with Traumatic Brain Injury w/
residual cognitive-linguistic deficits
– Attention Maintain attention to self & dog during
various therapeutic activities
– Memory  Recall commands  Recall stimuli about
dogs to share with others  Recalling & tracking
appointments independently set-up with Handler
– Executive Thinking  Identify solutions to potential
problem situations to maintain safety of dog & self.
Memory Matching
 Snuggle
Dog brings an object in its mouth to you.
 Let’s Go
Dog licks your cheek
 Kiss
Dog lifts its right paw to shake hands.
Dog rests its head on your shoulder so you
can give it a hug.
 Bring
Used to encourage dog to walk along with
Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists “help people across the
lifespan participate in the things they want and
need to do through the therapeutic use of
everyday activities (occupations). Common
occupational therapy interventions include
helping children with disabilities to participate
fully in school and social situations, helping
people recovering from injury to regain skills,
and providing supports for older adults
experiencing physical and cognitive changes.”
( 2013)
Typical Occupational Therapy
Goals May Include:
 Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) retraining
 Use of arms & hands to complete gross & fine motor
 Vision & Perception
 Cognition & Safety
 Modification of environment (home, work, school)
 Adaptive Equipment Recommendations
 High-Tech Assistive Technology training
 Driving Rehabilitation
 Note – crossover between disciplines helps with task generalization
How Animal-Assisted Therapy Impacts
OT Goals – Case Example #1:
30 y/o male with Traumatic Brain Injury
 Pathfinding/Navigation  walking the dog
through an unfamiliar neighborhood
 Visual-spatial awareness  safety when crossing
streets, maintaining awareness of the dogs safety
 Initiation  requesting to see dogs on his own
 Exercise  playing fetch, giving treats
How Animal-Assisted Therapy Impacts
OT Goals – Case Example #2
18 y/o male with Spinal Cord Injury (quadriplegia)
 Community Outing to Target  Multi-disciplinary
 Getting in/out of the van
 Going through doors
 Operating a power wheelchair while handling a dog in a
busy or crowded environment
 Getting items off shelves
 Carrying things
 Picking things up off the floor
 Managing purchases (wallet, cash, credit cards)
Physical Therapy Perspectives:
Physical therapists help people improve or restore
mobility. Therapy dogs help clients become more relaxed
and motivated during a PT session because the focus is on
something fun. They help take the mind off the task itself,
and this usually results in the client being able to do more
repetitions of an exercise. Some common PT goals
Bed mobility, rolling (have to get up to pet the dog)
Floor transfers (using the dog as a brace for support)
Gait training (split-attention while walking)
Balance (playing fetch)
Wheelchair navigation (safety)
Measures of Success:
 Getting out in the
community, interacting
with others
 Realizing they can do
things they previously
thought impossible
 Participation in
meaningful occupations
 In the end, the client
obtained a service dog
Permission obtained by Eileen Bohn, Director of Programs, Helping
Paws Inc. (February 2013).
 Helping Paws of Minnesota
 Intermountain Therapy Animals
 Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society)
 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
 American Physical Therapy Association
 American Occupational Therapy Association
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